Letters to a Princess, by Libby Hathorn

Dear Princess Diana,
I know you are very important, a princess and all, and I’m just a random girl in a country on the other side of the world but I just looked at one of the many pictures of you that are stuck up above my desk and thought, why not give it a go?

Diana Moore is, in her own words, average, except that she seems to land in trouble more times than other girls. Her mother died a year ago, and since then she’s lost weight, prompting her stepfather to think she has an eating disorder. Of course, Diana is sure there is no problem – she just watches what she eats so she won’t end up fat again.

When her friend Babs, the family’s housekeeper, suggests that Diana write to the other Diana – Princess Diana – she figures she may as well give it a go. Her letters are honest and chatty, telling the Princess about life in Australia. But Diana’s life is not getting better. Her stepbrother Marcus is giving her a really hard time, everyone is pressuring her about eating, and then she and her best friend Zoe land themselves in trouble when they go to see Princess Diana for real.

Letters to a Princess is an uplifting novel. Whilst it deals with very serious subjects of self-identity, eating disorders, grief and family disharmony, it does so in a form and tone that is relaxed and avoids becoming over heavy. This is not to say that it trivialises the issues. Rather, by using a combination of letter form and the first person narration of fifteen year old Diana, it allows Diana’s teen voice to explore events as they happen to her, with the reader allowed to recognise undercurrents not directly expressed.

Set in the year of Princess Diana’s death, the ten year time difference should not be a problem for teen readers.

A positive book on important topics.

Letters to a Princess

Letters to a Princess, by Libby Hathorn
ABC Books, 2007

This book is available online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.